The House of Representatives has commenced the second phase of its investigation into the allegations that over $17bn undeclared crude oil and liquefied natural gas exports were remitted into government coffers.
At the resumed hearing, lawmakers had an intense session with representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The lawmakers voiced their objection and displeasure at the attitude of government agencies which they accuse of disregarding the committee’s summons.
An ad hoc committee of the House, which is chaired by Abdulrazak Namdas, is investigating the allegation that crude oil worth $17bn was undeclared and later exported out of the country between 2011 and 2014.
The act was said to have been carried out by the perpetrators in collusion with government agencies, leading the House to invite the respective agencies.
The Nigerian Navy has arrested 11 crew members of a vessel, MT Camille, laden with about 4,000 metric tonnes of suspected stolen crude oil at Forcados in Delta State.
Briefing reporters on Friday, the Flag Officer Commanding the Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi, reiterated that the Navy had zero tolerance for illegal oil bunkering.
According to him the arrest was made in continuation of the resolve to curtail crude oil theft in the maritime environment in the region where most of the nation’s crude is mined.
He said that preliminary investigations were ongoing and that the Nigerian navy had employed new technologies to curb activities of oil pipeline vandals.
Crude oil theft further depletes Nigeria’s revenue from crude oil in the face of dropped crude oil price.
Nigeria depends largely on crude oil for its revenue, having drifted away from agriculture which was the nation’s economic mainstay before the discovery of crude oil.
The government is, however, making efforts to diversify the economy, with focus returning to agriculture and untapped huge solid minerals.